Australia’s A-League has closed its doors for another season as Sydney FC emerged triumphant in the grand final. The future for the country’s top flight looks bright and there have been several young talents who can count 2009/10 as their breakthrough season.

We take a look at the top five youngsters to have made the step up in the latest edition of the A-League:

1) Panny Nikas (Defensive midfielder; 21 years old; Central Coast Mariners)

13 goals from midfield in just 22 youth league games was enough to get Panny Nikas called up to the full squad at Central Coast. Voted the National Youth League Player of the Season by his fellow youngsters, his three appearances for the full squad showed he wasn’t out of his depth.

It’s understandable that he’s been eased in gently, but it is safe to expect a lot more from Nikas in the Hyundai A-League next season. After captaining the youth team to the minor premiership it’s definitely time for this 21-year-old to step up.

2) Tommy Oar (Left winger; 18 years old; Brisbane Roar)

Winning the Young Player of the Year Award, as voted for by amongst others the Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek, was the final straw in young Oar’s sparkly cap after a successful season. Breaking through into the Australia squad and being favourably compared with Harry Kewell wasn’t too bad either. Heavily involved in the game that secured qualification for Australia to the Asian Cup, he also established himself in Brisbane Roar’s first team, playing in 19 games and starting 14.

Although Oar’s return of one goal and one assist shows plenty of room for improvement, his all-round, high-octane displays have caught the eye. The 18-year-old is an outside shot for the Socceroos World Cup squad, offering real width and penetration, but if he doesn’t make it the Southport born youngster should still see this season as a huge success and could next season establish himself as an Australia regular.

3) Leigh Broxham (Defensive midfielder; 22 years old; Melbourne Victory)

Having just turned 22, Leigh Broxham is the perfect example for any young player to follow. He’s played his way into Melbourne Victory’s team on pure talent and has consolidated a midfield berth this season, as an ever present in the side. Tough tackling, not spectacular, but solidly enforcing his role in the centre of the park, Broxham has already earned a Socceroos cap.

Water carrier he may be, in the nicest possible sense, but Broxham’s solid defensive performances have provided the platform through which Melbourne Victory attackers could flourish. Down to earth and balanced, he’s the consummate team player: "At the end of the day your team-mates and your coach know what you do for the team and that is all that matters." he says, having helped to take Melbourne to the brink of grand final victory.

4) Mathew Leckie (Right winger – striker; 19 years old; Adelaide United)

Only signing for Adelaide from the Victorian state league in September, 19-year-old Leckie managed to rack up 20 games for the south Australian side this season, scoring three goals and earning a call-up to the Socceroos squad.

Leckie’s value to the team has continued into the Asian Champions League, scoring twice in the opening two games to set Adelaide up nicely in the group. Trickery, speed and unpredictability are all hallmarks of his game. Having converted this season from right midfielder to striker and back again, you suspect that in a better-functioning Adelaide team he could really achieve something great. With new recruits, next season’s A-League should see him own that right wing.

5) David Williams (Striker – right winger; 22 years old; North Queensland Fury)

David Williams has some incredible experience for a 22-year-old. Having played for Brondby aged 18, Queensland Roar and now North Queensland Fury, his travels have seen him mature beyond his years.

The stats don’t do Williams justice in a Fury team that often struggled, but his all action displays certainly do. His pace, directness and ability to ghost past defenders like they were standing still has made many sit up and take notice, as has his ability to fill in on the left wing and up front.

One of few indigenous Australians really making a mark on the A-league, you’d hope he’s learned a bit from playing with Robbie Fowler so he can add a touch more scoring to his game. But whether he’ll be in Townsville next season, and whether North Queensland Fury will (having suffered considerable financial losses), remains a bit of an open question.


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